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City Council approves ordinance regulating existing, future carports

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Posted at 8:38 PM, Nov 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-24 22:50:25-05

COLORADO SPRINGS — Big changes for carport owners in Colorado Springs.

Colorado Springs City Council voted 8-1 in favor of an ordinance regulating carports in neighborhoods. It's been roughly fifteen months since council members decided to take a hard look at carports.

"My understanding is about a year ago, a citizen with a carport received a complaint and violation of code. He or she was so upset that they drove all around the city and basically made complaints against 60 carports and overwhelmed the city with these complaints," said Nancy Henjum, Colorado Springs City Council.

The incident prompted council members to start working on new rules that would allow carports and regulate how they're built.

"There's been some tension around first it was illegal and to now to make it legal. The initial ordinance allowed any carports that you could buy from any manufacturer which is essentially the metal structures. That came to the council, and there was a lot of controversy about it because the people who really wanted it were very much pro, and the people who didn't want it were very much against it. What happened in that initial vote is that it failed on a tie vote so it failed on the idea that we wanted to try and find a compromise," said Henjum.

"These carports have been really important, and they've grown up like topsy. Now we have created a standard in our ordinance to allow carports as long as safety is the primary thing. The second thing is aesthetics, whether or not it looks like it fits into the neighborhood, it's not glaring, and it doesn't hurt the home values," said Tom Strand, Colorado Springs City Council.

Under the new ordinance, the city will restrict where a carport can be placed in a front yard. It must comply with all applicable provisions of the Pike Peak Regional Building Code. The front yard carport should not exceed five hundred square feet, or the maximum allowable parking and maneuvering area pursuant to the code. It has to be set back at least five feet from the near edge of the adjacent sidewalk, if any, and at least ten feet from the near edge of the curb or roadway. The carport must also not have side panels or screens in the area between grade level and sixty inches above grade level. The front yard carport may have one enclosed side only if the enclosed side is a shared wall with a principal or accessory structure.

"We've got this new ordinance now, and it wants to make sure that when you're pulling out to the sidewalk onto the street that you have a clear vision and the sides of the carport aren't blocked and you have at least a five-foot area that is in fact open," said Strand.

The ordinance prohibits carports with a fabric/nylon tarp roof with “skinny” posts, fabric/nylon tarp shelter, continuous roof down the sides, full side panels, and roof overhang.

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The carports must also have eaves, posts a minimum of 4 inches across, and meet a height restriction of twelve feet. The structures also cannot have untreated wood, unpainted metal, and must match the color of the body or trim of the primary structure. They can't be made of non-durable and/or flexible materials, including but not limited to, canvas, plastic, polyester, or other tentlike materials

"We know this could cost thousands of dollars to make the changes and we're sorry but maybe we can work with neighborhoods or nonprofits to really help people who don't have the money," said Strand.

The ordinance requires residents to apply for a permit to build a carport in their front yard. Neighbors will have an opportunity to comment on the proposed structures.

Councilmembers say no existing carports will be grandfathered in since they were illegal in the first place. Carport owners who don't comply with the new rules could face a fine and be required to take it down.

The ordinance will officially go into effect after a second vote in about two weeks.